Time Marches on at March Consulting

Time ‘Marches’ on at Saskatoon Engineering Firm

March Consulting benefits from HMS TimeControl web-based timekeeping, Oracle Primavera P6 integration

Executing projects is big business at March Consulting Associates Inc. One of Saskatchewan’s largest multi-discipline engineering firms, the Saskatoon-based company serves a variety of resource-based industrial and commercial clients, primarily in the mining sector. With numerous engineers, designers and project managers working on 20 or more projects at any given time, its dedicated team excels at applying the latest technology and techniques to solve tough engineering challenges, from providing upfront capital cost estimates, prefeasibility and feasibility studies, to delivering and commissioning detailed designs.

Behind the scenes, March Consulting administrators are equally committed to improving efficiency. Relying on the Oracle® Primavera® P6 (P6) project scheduling software, they ensure projects stay on task no matter how simple or complex the scope of work. In 2012, they decided to improve the process by changing from manual to electronic timesheets.

“There used to be a big disconnect between how people would track their hours and how we would get those hours into our scheduling software,” said Peter Smithen, Project Services, explaining that timesheets were cumbersome to use and schedulers were required to manually enter hours worked into the scheduling system. “We were looking for a web-based solution that would automatically feed into P6 as well as into our accounting system.”

TimeControl considered ‘gold standard’

The company investigated several time-keeping options and HMS Software’s TimeControl® came out on top. Not only does TimeControl provide integration to P6, but the solution is competitively priced, said Smithen.

“When I first started to search for a timesheet to link with Primavera, I was impressed by HMS Software’s knowledge and quick response to my queries,” he said. “When you implement an important piece of software, you want to be sure the company you partner with is going to be there to help you if you need it.”

The initial implementation lasted one week and was a team effort involving HMS consultants along with March Consulting’s IT, Finance, and Project Services employees.

TimeControl® was installed on March’s premises in Saskatoon, running on dedicated Windows and SQL servers. Employees access their timesheets through a standard Web browser from a desktop computer, laptop or smartphone, enabling remote entry for those who work off-site at client locations. The switch to TimeControl® was phased in over a few months, allowing for a very positive user experience, Smithen said.

“I’ve implemented a lot of software throughout my career and now I use TimeControl as my gold standard,” he said. “This was the best implementation I’ve ever completed.”

Automation saves valuable time

Tight integration between TimeControl and P6 means schedulers no longer enter hours manually, reducing the likelihood of errors. It also speeds up the timekeeping process because hours are automatically assigned to the correct project and activity, alleviating schedulers from the arduous task of allocating the hours themselves.

TimeControl serves as the central hub between accounting and scheduling. When resources are assigned in P6, the corresponding timesheets are updated with the new information and employees only see activities pertaining to them. Rather than relying on spreadsheets to manage their time, they can quickly identify the projects they’re working on in TimeControl and charge their time accordingly. Once approved, those hours feed back into P6 so project timelines can be updated as required; the hours also feed into accounting to inform payroll and billing. If an activity is changed in P6, the change is automatically updated in TimeControl.

Overall, filling out timesheets is easier and more direct. “You simply log in, enter your time, hit release and you’re done,” Smithen said. Timesheets are submitted every Thursday by 4 p.m. and are reviewed by managers before being sent to P6 and accounting, a process that is flowing smoothly thanks to TimeControl. “The process is so easy, we’re even getting our sub-contractors to use it.”

Another advantage to the timekeeping solution is the automated timesheet review process. “As soon as a timesheet is released, managers get an alert that it is ready for review,” he explained, noting that the move to a web-based timekeeping solution is saving valuable time.

Integration has benefits

When March Consulting moved to a new accounting system provided by Sage® Canada in 2017, HMS Software performed the simultaneous timesheet upgrade remotely, configuring a new export to link the Sage software to TimeControl. For March Consulting, one of the benefits of the new accounting software is the ability to perform job costing based on hours worked and hours remaining, functionality that wasn’t available in the old accounting software.

“We can track how much money we’re expecting to make on a given project and compare that to where we are in the cycle,” said Smithen, explaining that if 50 per cent of the work is complete, the budget should reflect that. “The integration between TimeControl and Sage allows us to forecast our revenues over the length of all of our projects.”

TimeControl remains the central repository of timekeeping information, ensuring that hours recorded in Sage are identical to those recorded in P6, he added.

Moving forward, Smithen is hoping to explore additional features in TimeControl that make it easier to create and approve projects using P6. As the administrator responsible for supporting TimeControl, he says he has never encountered issues with users being able to access timesheets and all upgrades to the software have gone smoothly.

“Having a web-based timesheet is a real plus,” Smithen said. “This is a piece of software that everyone in the company touches. People don’t talk about how great the transformation is anymore – they just expect it to work and it does.”

For more information about TimeControl, please contact: www.timecontrol.com/contact or info@hms.ca.

For more information about March Consulting, please contact www.marchconsulting.com.